WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that one of the nation’s largest coal companies will make system wide upgrades to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Arch Coal Inc., and 14 of its subsidiaries under the International Coal Group Inc. agreed to reduce pollution entering U.S. waters.
“Today’s settlement is good news for water quality in the Appalachian region, and especially for the people living in the overburdened and under served communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin in a news release. “It represents an important step forward by requiring these companies to take necessary actions to reduce pollution from their mining operations.”
A complaint against the company alleged that in the last 6 years, ICG operations have violated discharge limits for aluminum, manganese, iron and total suspended solids in their state-issued National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits.
The complaint states it happened on more than 1,200 occasions, resulting in over 8,900 days of violations. Of those violations, authorities resolved 700 in Kentucky and West Virginia.
The violations were discovered by the EPA through inspections of ICG facilities and projects that reviewed various information provided by the companies.
According to the release, the settlement resolves hundreds of Clean Water Act violations related to illegal discharges of pollutants at the companies’ coal mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
The states of West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania are co-plaintiffs in the settlement. The companies will also pay a civil penalty of $2 million.
“This joint enforcement effort, with three states, has resulted in a settlement that will require changes that will benefit the health and environment of Appalachian communities for many years to come,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Under the terms of the agreement, Arch Coal and its subsidiaries will pay a significant penalty, improve their pollution control systems and provide for independent monitoring and data tracking that will make it a better company and a better neighbor to these communities.”